Kid Activities
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Literacy Fun for Young Children Page 1

January 1, 2012 17:28 by Barbara Shelby

 Click here for all four early childhood literacy pages linked together...Fantastic!

This page has 'Tips and Ideas' for daily reading, book talk, and literacy in dramatic play. Although page 1 has ideas that are helpful to parents, it is a page that is more suited to early childhood teachers. 

 Parents AND teahers... Be sure to look  at page 2... there are more than 70   'FUN ACTIVITIES'  ---- that promote reading, writing and communication!


Introduction: Definition of 'LITERACY'

Thinking is fundamental to literacy! Literacy is most commonly defined as the ability to read, spell and communicate through written language. However, in a more general sense, literacy is more than just the ability to read or write. It means being able to view, listen, read, comprehend, evaluate, speak, and write effectively and systematically.

Literate children approach reading and writing as fun and exciting activities. They use reading to learn about a wide range of subjects, and they use writing to share their own ideas. Literacy stretches imagination and stimulates interests. Youth who lack a comprehensive and enjoyable introduction to the world of literature tend to see writing and reading as work--something they have to do. Literacy broadens a person's world as surely as illiteracy narrows it.

Literacy is empowering.  It is one of the most important skills a person can have! How skillfully and successfully children develop their reading skills and grow towards literacy may influence their beliefs about their personal worth and abilities for a lifetime!

Because literacy develops along a personal continuum, same-age children may display varying levels of skills.  Because of this, both literacy activities for day care and preschool settings -- as well as literacy activities for the first grade levels-- may all be appropriate for each age group. So when planning activity lessons, look for activities geared from pre-k through first grade.


There are tons of ideas in the following sections--but most of all----'WE' as teachers and parents... need to  model our love for the written word and reading!


• Label everything; write notes; keep a calendar and daily planner; post rules.
Post lists of snacks; schedule; upcoming events; and children's responsibilities.  Children observe adults using print materials!
• Teachers and Parents...introduce new vocabulary words during routine conversation and book reading.



1. Ensure that children have 'daily experiences' of being read to and are independently reading meaningful and engaging stories, as well as informational texts.

 2. Help children learn how to choose appropriate books for independent reading.
3. Encourage children to join in reading by letting them complete rhymes or tell favorite parts of stories. After you have read the book a few times, stop when you come to the second word that rhymes, and let the children fill in the word.

    •"Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a yellow fish looking at ____"

    •Use the fill-in-the-blank technique: For example, "Old Mother Hubbard went to her ____." This method also can be used with non-rhyming books.
4. Provide opportunities for children to talk about what is read and to focus on the sounds and parts of language as well as the meaning. 

5. Provide repeated readings of stories so children can gain mastery of the narrative, ideas, and language.
6. Actively engage the children. Example: "Do you know anyone who acts like that?"

7. Take time to answer children's questions about reading.

8. Allow children to choose the stories to be read during story time.

9. Encourage children to: compare and contrast, predict, ask why and how, and check their understanding of stories.
10. Guide discussions that help children summarize and relate texts to their lives; help them develop a deeper understanding of characters.
11. Listen attentively when children begin to read emergently, pretending to "read" aloud from a book.
12. Include: Songs, flannel board stories, finger play, poems, games, and stories with alliteration, rhyme repetition, and patterns.

13. Share several versions of the same story. For instance, there are two versions of the Little Pigs. The traditional version and then the 'True Story of the Three Little Pigs' from the wolf's perspective.

• Read a few to the children and let them choose their favorite version.
• Be sure to ask them why it is their favorite.

14. Have big books available for single or partner reading.

15. Play reading tag by choosing a book with many words that the child knows. Each time you want your child to read a word, tap him or her on the shoulder.

16. Ensure that the classroom/home library is well stocked with a variety of reading materials: Books, magazines, and newspapers. Allow time for children to enjoy the library area independently.

17. Try using a puppet with children. Many story telling kits have puppets included. The puppets can host your story time; the puppet can open the story time with a favorite finger play, song or rhyme. This can become a favorite ritual. A puppet can also serve as a role model for preferred behavior such as sitting quietly and listening to the story. Let children make their own puppets and use them to act out a story.


Wear different hats during story time.
Example: Construction hats, Beach hat, Cowboy hat, Gardening hat, Minnie/Mickey mouse hat, Train Engineers hat, London Fog rain hat, etc.


PROVIDE A PRINT RICH ENVIRONMENT where children can see the purpose and use of the written language.
Label everything in the room. Rooms should be set up where children can read the room. Make word lessons and word walls that display words on a classroom wall that are part of phonics being used. Before you put the words up-show the children. Review the words on the wall and different areas once they are placed.

NOTE from KidActivities:

Be sure to make labels large enough where they are noticeable. Tour the room with the children and go over the words. I once was hired to consult with a Kindergarten program. The suggestion was made to provide a print rich environment.

When I returned to see how the group was doing~ I asked if labels were made.  They were...however labels  were on tiny scrap pieces of paper (one to two inches long and a half inch wide) and placed were they could not be seen. Additionally, the children were not told about the labels...where they were...or what they said. (Barb)


 1. Have child take turns in helping select reading material to read aloud to the class.
2. Ensure that all children have the opportunity to read aloud to someone with whom they are comfortable for at least 10 minutes each day; this reading may be done with volunteers, older buddies, or as a take-home reading program. Some children will still be reading emergently, particularly early in the school year.
3. Provide many ways for children to re-read books through shared reading, buddy reading, and small group reading.


1. Have children ask their own questions about stories and respond to classmates' questions.

2. Allow class time for regular sharing of each child's thoughts, ideas, and experiences.

3. Enrich the conversation by responding to children, asking questions, and expanding on children's words.
4. Help your child see the story from the character's point of view. After reading a story aloud, ask a few simple questions:

• Which character is most like you?  How?
• Which character is least like you? How?
• What happens in the story that you wish could happen to that you wish could happen to you? Why?

5. Enrich children's vocabulary by providing pictures and discussions that relate to stories.



If shelf space is not available, books can be put into tubs.
The tubs are labeled and a sticker is placed on the label. All of the books have a corresponding sticker. When finished, children place the book back in the correct tub. (This is also good for shelf use)
Example. Science tub has a red sticker and each book a red sticker. You can also have a theme tub that changes as the theme changes.

•LISTENING CENTER:  BOOKS AND TAPES - Use read-along books and CD's/cassettes in your listening center. If you don't have a tape/CD for a big book or familiar book - make one.


Remember back to your days playing cowboys and indians or house?  It's still the same for kids today!!! Encourage creativity and language development in your children by providing a creative dramatic area in your center. Ensure the classroom has "special materials and play areas geared to encourage children in particular domains while appealing to their interests."

• Some examples of centers are:
Art center, music center, puppets, science center, home center, doctor's office, or other real-world play areas. Consider changing your dramatic play area every month to reflect a different theme.

Example: One month set up a doctor's office with real stethoscope, x-rays, doctor's scrubs, dolls for patients, ace bandages, gloves, and play- doctor kits. The following month change the theme.

1.  Encourage children to use literacy materials in their dramatic play.

• In a block area, provide maps and labeled photos of buildings and construction sites.
In a woodworking area, provide tool catalogs, home improvement magazines, and picture reference books about building.
In a home area, provide food packaging, menus, (use a collection of cereal boxes and take-out menus) phone book, and appliance instructions.
In an office area, provide plane tickets, travel brochures, and computer keyboards.
In a drugstore area, provide magazines and books, play money, checkbooks, paper bags for prescriptions, labels for bottles, empty medicine boxes, and prescription pads.
In a store area, provide checkbooks and play money.
Shopping - laminate sentence strips and bind into books - pictures of food, toys, clothing, and anything else you can find.
 All pictures should be clearly labeled; Include writing utensils and "list paper", small memo books and list type of paper (long strips of lined paper).

2. Provide time for children to create scripts for dramatic play. This will take at least 30 minutes to create and carry out the scripts.
3. Put on a play with a pre-written or well known script. Dress up in costumes and act out a simple story.  Provide simple props and let children act out their favorite stories. Simple folktales like the Three Little Pigs and The Billy Goats Gruff are fun to act out. If children are over fours years old...pop popcorn for a snack afterwards.

4. Have staff take part in the dramatic play to model ways of using literacy materials and show children ways of dramatizing.

5. Have pretend phone conversations with the children asking what they did yesterday, are doing today, and want to do tomorrow?

6. Puppet Theater- Make puppets (bag, paper plates and sticks, socks, mittens, lunch bags, foam or felt).
Make Puppets, Write a play, Produce, Practice, Perform...

7. Masks: Make and play




Have the children sing songs and play games that encourage language play. (Visit the two pages of Early Childhood Songs)

1. The ability to pick out rhyming words is one of the first skills in phonemic awareness. Children who have been exposed to lots of music and nursery rhymes have a huge head start on these skills. 

There are many songs that play with sounds.
• "allaby, Woo" by Raffi is a wonderful way to play with initial consonant sounds. Children go around a circle and playfully insert a child's name into each verse.
• "The Name Game" by various children's artists is another.

2. Make up songs or rhymes using the children's names.  Let children add motions to the songs as you sing them.

3. ABC's sung frontward and then backwards...Have a poster of the alphabet and point to the letters starting with "Z" and go from there...

NOTE: When I consultd and observed one school site, a child actually starting singing the alphabet backwards as she was playing at 'choice time'. She wasn't thinking about it...she just started singing.

4. Sing a simple song with the children.  Count the words that rhyme. Make up a new song of your own using words that rhyme.

5. Lettercize to Music (music, movement, the alphabet)

• Children stand in a circle. A music CD with ABC's, using Rocky theme-music is played.    
Children call out 'A aahh'(while doing a boxer punching motion with fist into the air)    
Then 'B and b  sound'(making each letter sound after the letter name.) This is done all the way to Z. At intervals, the Rocky music will play and children aerobicsize to it(punching, jumping rope, etc.)  The alphabet starts again ---until the next Rocky aerobicsize movement.

6. For a transition activity, call each child's name using the same letter. Example: If the letter of the day is 'B'-Call Byrone, Beremy, Bita, Biane, Bal, etc.

7. Play the game 'Snap'!

One player says two words. If the words share a sound (first, middle, or last), the other players say, "Snap!" and snap their fingers. If the two words do not share a sound, the other players are quiet. Begin with first sounds and move into the other sounds as the children are ready. (You may have to work on teaching children how to 'snap' their fingers!)

8. Play a listening game in which the children blend an onset sound and rhyme that you pronounce separately. Example:, bat. When you first play the game, begin by using words that are in the same family, such as: hat, cat, and fat. When the children become proficient at this type of activity, change it so that you keep the onset sound and change the rhyme: s...and, sand; s...un, sun; s...eal, seal.

9. Create or purchase a set of pictures and letter cards that have children sort pictures by the letter they begin with (beginning sound). Start with one letter and ask the children to help find the pictures that begin with that sound. Gradually add more letters to the sorting activity.

10. Play word games that help children hear syllables in words. Example: Clap syllables in children's names.

11. Print out two sets of alphabet letters: one upper case (capitals), one lower case (small letters).  Cut the letters out, mix them up and play a match-up game with your children (A-a, B-b, C-c).

12. 'Jumping Bean' game
Children take turns picking a letter from a container, and are to think of one or two words that start with that letter. If they pick out the word or picture of a 'bean' instead of a letter, children all get up and jump around like Mexican jumping beans!

13. Place a ball on a table in front of the class. Explain that there are special words that can be used to tell someone about the ball. Give two adjectives that describe it.

Example: red and round. On the chalkboard, write "It is red and round." Help the children read the sentence. Remove the ball and place another item on the table. Invite the children to think of two words that tell about the item. On the chalkboard, write "It is_____ and_____." Give each child a turn to read the sentence and complete it with his or her words that tell about the item.

14. Make large flash cards using words of your choice based on the children's level of ability. Laminate these cards. Laminate or cover the cards in plastic; the cards are now ready to use.


This is page sure to continue onto page 2 for more than 70 wonderful activities the promote and encourage learning. Most are ideas where the children don't even realize they are learning!


You may also be interested in:


Easter Book List for Kids

January 1, 2012 08:15 by Barbara Shelby



  •  Bunny's Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  •  Bunny Trouble by Hans Wilhelm
  • Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
  • Easter Bugs : A Springtime Pop-up by David A. Carter
  • Easter Bunny's Amazing Egg Machine by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
  • Easter Mice! by Bethany Roberts
  • Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Humbug Rabbit by Lorna Balian
  • Lilies, Rabbits and Painted Eggs by Edna Barth
  • Little Bunny's Easter Surprise by Jeanne Modesitt, Robin Spowart (Illustrator)
  • Minnie and Moo: The Attack of the Easter Bunnies by Denys Cazet
  • Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow
  • One Duck Stuck : A Mucky Ducky Counting Book by Phyllis Root
  • Owen's Marshmallow Chick by Kevin Henkes
  • Peeping Beauty by Mary Jane Auch
  • Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco
  • Ten Little Eggs by Jean Marzollo
  • The Best Thing About Easter by Christine Harder Tangvald
  • The Bunny Who Found Easter by Charlotte Zolotow
  • The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward
  • The Easter Bunny That Overslept by Priscilla & Otto Friedrich, Donald Saaf (Illustrator)
  • The Easter Chicken by Lisa Funari Willever
  • The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams
  • The Easter Egg Farm by Mary Jane Auch
  • The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous
  • The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Golden Egg by A.J. Wood
  • The Jelly Bean Fun Book by Karen Capucilli
  • The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing
  • The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter



  • 175 Easy to Do Easter Crafts
    by Sharon Dunn Umnik - editor
  • Crafts for Easter
    by Kathy Ross
  • Easter - A Spring Celebration of Traditional Crafts and Recipes
    by Tessa Evelegh
  • Easter Treats
    by Jill O'Connor
  • Fun to Make Crafts for Easter
    by Tom Daning
  • The Easter Craft Book
    by Berger
    These can be found in library, bookstore or on


Click here for Easter Themed Art, Crafts, Snacks, Games, Jokes, Easter Egg Ideas and more...


Parachute Games

October 21, 2009 02:26 by Barbara Shelby


Most think parachute games are only for very young children--not so! Some of the games below-- especially those that use a ball, are fun for kids 5 to 11 years old! Games using balls, cotton balls, jump ropes, pom poms, balloons and bean bags are towards page bottom... 



1. Children evenly spread out in a circle --while holding the edge.
2. Pull the parachute taut and then lower it between knee level
and the ground.
3. On a signal-all raise the chute upwards; it will fill with air and
rise up like a giant mushroom (In the winter-call it an "IGLOO")

Tip #1: to get it as high as possible, all participants take a couple steps towards the center as the chute rises.
Tip #2: Practice together so the children can learn cooperation and
working together as a group.

VARIATION OF MUSHROOM: Once the basic play is mastered, experiment!

1. Mushroom and then all children runs to the center while still holding the chute.

2. Mushroom and then have all chidren let go of the chute at exactly the same time.
If there isn't any wind, the chute will retain its perfect puff shape
and rise straight up into the air.

This is especially fun outdoors on a windy day. Indoors it may go up to the ceiling.

While  holding  the parachute tightly, participants move their arms
up and down to make small and large waves.


Place a variety of 'treasures' (anything you want) into a treasure box under the parachute. Make waves (above) as if in a Sea Storm. Send divers to retrieve called out items one by one from the box.


1. With the parachute lowered, players raise their arms (and the chute) as high as possible.
2. Once the chute is high, on a signal-all take  3-4 big steps towards the center.
3. Still holding the chute tightly,
children sit down at the edge of the chute-under what should appear to be a cathedral


1. Start off on the floor with all children sitting calmly and
grasping the parachute-this is a gentle breeze.
2. Pretend that it starts raining. As it rains have the children
3. Oh-oh...the rain is now turning into a THUNDERSTORM! All children
start shaking the chute as hard as they can to simulate the storm.


Lift the parachute high overhead.
Call one child's name and have him/her run  to the other side before
the parachute comes down and tags them.

Variation: You can alter the game by having children skip, crawl or twirl to the other side.

1. Have each child hold the parachute with one hand-with the opposite
arm extended straight out for balance.
2. Run clockwise in one direction and then change to counter clock .
Tip: Use music to cue children for changing direction; every time the
music stops, direction is changed.

You need a large chute for this activity.
Depending on the amount of children playing, going around the circle,
number the children. Example: 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5, etc.
Call a number such as "3" and all the "3's" switch places by running
under the chute. Loud with running excitement but fun!


Turn the body so that the chute is held with only one hand.
Walk, hop, jump, or skip around holding the chute.
It looks like a merry-go-round!


Number around the circle 1 or 6 (or adapt numbers according to group size). 
All the number one children remove a shoe and throw it under the parachute.
On the third lift--all those missing a shoe go into the middle, retrieve their shoe and return to their place.
Continue with the other numbers!


Have all the players hold the parachute way up high above their heads. Call out two names and have these two players run underneath the parachute, shake hands, then run back out before the parachute comes down. Continue doing this until all the players have had a chance to run under the parachute.


Everyone holds the chute stretched out at about waist height. Someone becomes a mouse and goes underneath. Someone else becomes a cat and goes on top. The rest of the group try to hide the mouse by moving the chute up and down.


Swing the parachute upwards and let it go~ 
Try to keep the parachute floating as long as possible.


Each player is given the name of a fruit such as pear, apple, or strawberry.
When the facilitator calls out the name of a fruit, everyone with that fruit name  changes places by running under the parachute. When fruit salad is called out, everyone must swap places with the players on the other side.


GOING TO THE HAIR STYLIST (This can also be a science demonstration of static electricity!)

1. Have children hold the edtges of the parachute-with one child sitting under it.
2. On signal, the children pull back and forth on the parachute as if they are washing  hair.
3. The child's hair beneath the parachute becomes statically charged because of the rubbing.
4. On signal, swing the parachute up so the child's hair goes up and stays up!(Static charge)
5. The more often the hair is "washed"--the more 'charged' the head of hair becomes.





Holding onto the parachute, children walk around in a circle.
As they walk they say-

There was a man in our town
Who went for a WALK one day
But the wind blew so hard
He turned around
And WALKED the other way.

Variation: Add to the fun and change the action words to-skip,hop, run, etc.



Sung to: "If your happy and you know it"
When the parachute goes up
Stomp your feet-
When the parachute goes up
Stomp your feet-

When the parachute is high
And floats up in the sky
When the parachute goes up
Stomp your feet.

Additional verses:

Lift one leg...
Shout hooray!...
Bend your knees...
Wiggle your bottom...
Shake your head-and so on...



As the song is sung, have children raise the parachute above their heads.
When a child's name is called--- they run under the parachute. The parachute is slowly lowered in an attempt to trap the child.Play  until all children that would like to try-- have had a turn.
Sung to: Row Row Row your Boat

Up, up, up it goes
Down, down, down it comes
If your name is------- (put in a child's name)
Now's your turn to run


PARACHUTE GAMES USING BALLS, COTTON BALLS, BALLOONS, JUMP ROPES, BEAN BAGS OR POM-POMS Most games using balls are good for children from 5 to 11...


Start with all players holding the chute stretched out. Throw as many soft balls as you have  onto the chute-the  more the better!
Holding the chute tightly, have children bounce the popcorn (balls)
as quickly as they can off of the chute.
Variation: Play this game in two teams. One side of children try to
bounce the balls off the chute, while the other side works at keeping the balls on the chute!


Place a number of beanbags or cotton balls on the chute. Shake the chute to make them rise like popcorn.



Have the children try to roll balls into the hole in the center of
the parachute.

Place a soft ball of any size in the center. The object of the game
is for each team NOT to let the ball fall off on their side.


Have all players holds the chute stretched tightly.
Place a large ball near the edge.
The object of this game is to try to make the ball roll around the edge of the chute.

 To do this someone starts the ball rolling. As it comes towards you, you lower the edge you are holding, and as it goes past you raise your edge.

When all the players do this smoothly, a wave is created that goes round the edge, pushing the ball in a steady circle. It can not be done without concentration and co-operation!
Tip:This game also need practice and co-operation. When mastered it can be a lot of fun! Hyou've done this try speeding up - or change direction.

Variation: Roll the ball at different speeds or change direction.

Place a ball on top of the parachute and have the players roll the ball back and forth to each other. For example, you could tell a specific person to roll the ball to someone that you name. This game encourages cooperation, as the players will have to work together for the first player to get the ball to their friend.


Place a ball on the parachute and catapult it as high as possible!


While the players are holding onto the parachute, place several balloons on top of the parachute. Count to 3 and then say "up". On the word "up", all the players raise the parachute up over their heads as fast as they can and then bring the parachute down as quickly as possible. Where are the balloons? Keep repeating this game to see how high you can get the balloons to go, or how far you can get them to travel.

While the players are holding onto the parachute, toss a plastic golf ball onto the parachute. Have the players manuever the parachute to try to get the ball through the hole. When the ball is in the hole, have a caddy go under the parachute to retrieve it and start over. Count the number of waves (golf strokes) it takes the players to get the ball into the hole. Keep track on a scoreboard.


Need several small balls  such as plastic balls, tennis balls,or table tennis balls...
Put the fleas (balls) on the parachute and challenge players try to get the fleas to jump higher and higher.

The fleas are successfully taken care of at the end of the game-- when they land outside the parachute!



Put various sized pompoms in the top of the parachute and try to get them into the middle pocket.
Variety: form teams with different colors of pom-poms and challenge
them to see which team can get the most of their color into the middle pocket in an alloted time.

Place four to six skipping ropes on the chute. By shaking the chute, the children try to shake them off.




Always be sure to check the ground underneath the chute.Outdoors, dry grass is the best play surface. Wet grass can be slippery.
Space children and adults evenly around the edge of the chute.
Before play review parachute rules. Remind children to play safely-- to listen to instructions-- and not bump heads or run into each other.
When facilitating play, a second adult is helpful in fielding children and balls, etc.


A parachute is best stored by taking hold of the center in one hand and then twisting the chute loosely into a rope. Roll it up and stuff it into a bag/sack. The thin nylon sacks sold for the storage of sleeping bags work well.